You may recall, a couple of days ago when I posted about ONE-EYED JACKS and certain Kubrickian aspects, Paul Clipson, San Francisco-based filmmaker and projectionist, commented that he’d always felt there was some connection between the jail tower set in that film and the mission tower in VERTIGO. Digging deeper, Paul learned that the film’s shared a set decorator, one Sam Comer. I suggested I might run a comparison to see what might be detected.

Paul saved me the trouble, and his instincts proved uncannily accurate!


The thrifty Comer seems to have recycled the same backdrop view for windows in both towers, using the window frame to mask out inconveniently modern details in the Brando western. Wouldn’t we get a shock if a dummy Kim Novak fell past that window?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison.


Since both films are set near Monterey, the economy is for once quite reasonable. It’s not like Skull Island standing in for the Everglades in CITIZEN KANE (which NEVER HAPPENED.)

Big thanks to Paul Clipson.

5 Responses to “Back-drop”

  1. This is like watching the film detectives. Bravo!

  2. Thanks! Let’s see what else we can solve from our respective transatlantic armchairs.

  3. Can you solve this one – why would Hitchcock use an (obvious) dummy instead of a stunt woman dropping onto a mattress? Were people just inured to dummies back then? I mean, the Novack stand-in would only have to drop ten feet at the most to cross the visual zone of the window. I know carping about dummies in one of the Greatest Films of All Time is reprehensibly small-minded, but still…

  4. I think Hitchcock started from the default of artifice. Rather than beginning by aiming for reality and compromising to make it achievable, he started off fake and only did it for real if absolutely compelled.

  5. That makes sense to me. Does it make me a hypocrite if I love the tiny Mrs Danvers puppet that closes the window in the model of Manderley, but the dropped VERTIGO mannequin pokes me in the eye?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: